Once a U.S. Army airfield, Crissy Field has undergone an amazing transformation over the past 20 years and is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. A popular spot for dog walkers, bikers, runners, and families, the 1.5-mile promenade that skims the bay draws around 1.2 million visitors each year. The outdoor space on the edge of the Presidio has one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the city, making it an excellent place for a photo op, too. The waterside path runs between the Marina Green and Fort Point, just under the bridge. Along the way, there are sandy beaches to run around on, picnic tables, barbecue grills, tidal marshes, and low sand dunes. You can also catch a glimpse of some epic wind- and kite-surfing on the water. Drop into the Warming Hut at the west end for coffee, hot chocolate, water, snacks, and San Francisco–themed gifts before continuing on to the end of the trail. Make sure to touch the Hopper's Hands plaque—it's a tradition. You'll understand when you get there.
Hot Dogs with a View
Walkers who make it to the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on the beachside trail that runs along the Marina's Crissy Field are rewarded with the scent of grilled onions and fresh-cooked meat. Stationed from 11am to dusk near the Warming Hut on weekends and holidays, Let's Be Frank cooks up hotdogs with a San Francisco twist: grass-fed beef, pasture-raised turkey, humanely-raised pork and a house-crafted spicy pickled relish (made with organic California-grown peppers) make the dogs worth the $6 price tag. The hotdogs are served on—what else—ACME bread, and are best when consumed at one of the nearby picnic tables, which offer one of the best views of the city. The cart is cash-only, and can also be found in Hayes Valley on Linden and Octavia on Fridays and Sundays from 11:30am to 4pm.
By Kim Fortson, AFAR Contributor
San Francisco's Public Art
San Francisco’s art should be appreciated outside the walls of the city’s impressive museums. A walk through the Mission district reveals dramatic graffiti around almost every corner. On Valencia Street, pay close attention between 17th and 18th streets to find Clarion Alley Mural Project. Delve further into the Mission to see the grand façade of the Women’s Building and the socially focused Balmy Alley murals. The “Summer of Love” Haight-Ashbury neighborhood has colorful, fantastical murals on almost every corner. On the Embarcadero, visit Cupid’s Span—designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen—and at Crissy Field, wander around the newly installed large-scale pieces by Mark di Suvero (shown).
By Kristin Zibell, AFAR Local Expert
The close of a day of celebrating The Golden Gate Bridge 75th anniversary. Crissy Field is one of the best spots to get your head and eyes wrapped around this marvel. Rent a bike and pedal the path leading to and from the bridge. Best ride of your life! (oh, and it is flat, unlike most of the city)
Spectacular Yard Art at the Golden Gate
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art just opened an outdoor sculpture exhibit on Crissy Field featuring the work of renowned sculpter Mark di Suvero. Suvero's sculptures are heroic in size and seem to be organic deconstructions of the Golden Gate towering above Crissy Field. Take a picnic. Bring the kids. Don't forget the dog. Spectacular views of the Bridge and Bay are guaranteed. The show runs through 26 May 2014.
Crissy Field Sculptures
Outdoor art installations are one of my favorite things to check out and study. Naturally, there's always a large impact on the space and setting they're in and the placement often comes with resistance from a few locals. When I arrived at Crissy Field to witness the Mark di Suvero sculptures, I met up with one of those locals and we decided to get up close an personal with the pieces. As someone that works in the Presidio near the field, she mentioned she'd hope the art was to have a speedy exit from her familiar vantage point, out to the Golden Gate and the Marin Headlands. That it seemed like an interruption to all that green. It made sense, just how different Crissy Field now looks to the people who spend time here every day. I was originally drawn to the art for two reasons. One being their scale- this is no small endeavor by an artist and two, by the fact that this is a joint effort between the SFMOMA, the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Hooray for collaboration! We learned that the bay area native artist had long been inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge and he'd hoped to have the chance to 'reframe the surrounding landscape' with previous works placed strategically along the field, in a tribute. The exhibition brings together his works dating from 1967 to 2012. Once we'd experienced the works up close, my company was still unconvinced, but her opinion had softened and the admiration for the artist's effort was there.
By Bronwen Gregory, AFAR Local Expert
San Francisco, CA 94129, USA